When new trailer per Avatar: Path of Watercame out the next installment of James Cameron’s CGI franchise, many viewers found the footage to be like a video game. Like praise or pejoratively, this comparison is somewhat exaggerated. However, it also signals a perceived overlap between the video game and film industries, which are increasingly sharing technological, narrative, and visual approaches.
Multiplex screens are currently overloaded with game images – there are exceptions, but the feeling of green screen unreality certainly abounds, whether you’re watching an explosion-heavy action movie or a fast-paced drama. Other ideas also circulate freely in different mediums: games and movies alike have set their clocks to Matrix-style effects “bullet time”; both forms shook their cameras a la Born; and the same virtuoso director as Brian De Palma wondered in how some games have cleverly repurposed wandering first-person cinematic footage.
And in more recent developments, high-profile games now typically feature movie and TV star images captured in performance. The latter is not so surprising, because it was predicted long ago – sort of. In the October 1982 issue of the magazine Illustrated video gamesone finds the vaguely maniacal headline “ROBERT REDFORD’S VIDEO GAME” and the admonition “Don’t laugh, we may yet see one of these as more and more movie studios enter the video game arena.”
Break into Careerthe latest horror adventure game from the British developer Supermassive Games, or the latest movie-crazed fistfight stepping over the ropes. Of course, Supermassive is not a film studio and is not directly affiliated with one, but it specializes in horror games with clearly cinematic ambitions. Career So it’s kind of an interactive movie and the cast is made up of new and established film actors. Skyler Gisondo— who recently starred in an Oscar-nominated film. licorice pizza– plays a key role in the game, as well as Jurassic World Dominion partner Justice Smith, among many others. Performance capture technology recorded the vocal data, facial expressions, and body expressions of each actor, which were converted into computer-generated facsimiles that players control and/or encounter in the game itself. In this regard, Supermassive was assisted by Digital Domain, a Los Angeles-based visual effects studio co-founded by James Cameron that has since worked on numerous films, games and TV shows.
Will Biles, director and co-writer Careerdrew inspiration from a 1980 summer camp slasher film Friday the 13thand in baroque death scenes Destination franchise. But the game is especially indebted to the 1981 horror comedy. American Werewolf in London, which Biles recalls as “the first horror movie I’ve ever seen where I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is funny.'” As he told me via Zoom, Biles admires how the film combines its humor with believable relationships and “real horror.” AT Careerthere’s also a mingling of tones: it lurches from sentimental needle-drops to low-brow jokes and menacing werewolves of its own.
The game takes place in the summer camp Hackett’s Quarry, which boasts the usual trappings: huts, canoes, corpses floating in the lakes. At the beginning of the story, the campers were taken home, but the teenage counselors still roam the grounds. When their own road home is delayed, they decide to relight the fire and enjoy the night. As they will learn in the coming hours, the sprawling forest holds many secrets, although, unfortunately, there is no Robert Redford cameo role among them.
However, Biles addressed one of Redford’s contemporaries:Grace Zabrisky, whose appearance on screen is as gripping as Redford’s own presence. The octogenarian actress is rightly known for her eccentric role as Mrs. Ross in Seinfeld, and for her variously poignant and creepy roles in the works of art house director David Lynch. AT Career, she plays Eliza, a crazy prophetess from the wilderness, armed with tarot cards and a clouded crystal ball. Her scenes ominously end the game’s 10 chapters. “It was wonderful,” Biles says of the Zabriskie collaboration. “The actor’s extraordinary, mesmerizing eyes” still remain in his memory.
Although Zabriskie has previously appeared in a video game, a 1993 FMV (Full-Motion Video) oddity. Voyeuranother movie-game hybrid—Careertechnological nonsense was fairly new territory. Reflecting on the same theme, Biles recalls an image of Zabriska wearing her mocap outfit: “She’s wearing a lycra suit with little dots on it. She’s wearing a helmet, an outstretched arm and a 3D camera, and little dots on her face.” But Zabriskie, already well accustomed to the strange production context, “taken it all in stride.” The results in the game are certainly quite elegant. The resemblance to Zabriskie is well approximated, and her glances from under half-closed eyelids are conveyed to the smallest detail, sometimes the sour curl of her smile is unmistakably guessed.
“The actors are being scanned,” Biles emphasizes. “I mean, really big high-tech scanning.” A head-mounted camera captures the finest performance details, which are given constant access to their in-game destinations using Masquerade 2.0, proprietary machine learning software used by Digital Domain. Masquerade helps keep shots stable and legible, even when actors are jumping, rushing and – in the case of a risky actor Zach Tinker– Break your thumb. (“The look was fantastic,” Biles jokes, finding a sweet spot.) The software also cuts down on the fuss in post-production by enhancing the isomorphic connection between dotted faces in performance capture and their corresponding computer meshes.
As Aruna Inversine, Creative Director of Digital Domain and Visual Effects Supervisor, tells me, “Each actor’s digital face is completely defined by their facial expressions. Almost all of the faces shown in the game have not been touched by any animator except for 27 of the 4500 frames.” The Masquerade is also tried and tested: it eased Josh Brolin’s role as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
Career, however, is more than its visual style. He also dares to ask important questions, such as whether to use a chainsaw or a shotgun to amputate an arm bitten by a werewolf. At such times, two options are displayed on the screen. Each option pushes the story in a different direction. Some choices have minor consequences, others represent a life and death predicament. As the player guides counselors through the dark areas of the game, QTE prompts (short for quick events where you need to quickly move the analog stick or press a button to perform an in-game action) will also appear. Alternatively, you can activate Career Movie Mode, set a few presets and watch the game unfold automatically.
As Biles points out, players rarely have to wait “much more than a minute before any further interaction occurs, be it a selection, a QTE, or whatever.” Careerin this sense, develops the “interactivity” already present in horror metafilms such as scream or, more recently, Latest Girls. Last scream The sequel offers an instructive example. Halfway through the film, franchise stalwart Dewey (David Arquette) strides towards the mutilated body of the slasher villain Ghostface. “You have to shoot them in the head or they always come back,” Dewey insists before drawing his gun. In this way, horror films can provide experienced moviegoers with confidants—characters who also understand the rules of the genre and use that know-how on behalf of the viewer.
Career takes this tradition to a new level, putting control directly into the hands of the audience. But the audience, like the victims of slasher films, is not omniscient. Indeed, in that scream confrontation, Ghostface quickly rises at the last moment and plunges two blades into Dewey’s torso. Career also a smart glove. The player’s choice can suddenly explode in front of him – and, in fact, in front of Arquette, since he also plays a role in the game. In my own experience with the PlayStation 5 version, many counselors died suddenly, reminiscent of the famous sudden death of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in Hitchcock’s 1960 proto-slasher Psycho. In this regard, Career gets a little carried away. The death toll can easily pile up, and a few narrative threads once considered important can vanish into nothing.
“What happened to the good old authenticity?” asks one of the endangered advisors. Here and elsewhere Career seems to make fun of its own liminal quality as it is neither fully game nor fully cinematic. Supermassive “wanted to try and make it as close to live action as possible,” Biles claims, further emphasizing the team’s cinematic ambitions. But the computer style of play inevitably lags behind its real-time predecessors. No one will find Career something like Marilyn Burns‘ vivid expressions of pure horror, long since engraved on celluloid amid the sweat-soaked production of the 1974 film. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And yet the game has never been as carefree fun as Crispin Glover dance in Friday the 13th: Final Chapter, which is still one of the most oddly poignant and authentic sideshows in horror film history. Nevertheless, it has enough liveliness and authenticity. Career to give the skeptics a break. The game is often deliberately silly, but it has its emotional underpinnings. The counselors look ahead with concern, keenly aware that the summer hours are fading away. They overestimate hobbies, relationships, and intended career paths.
What Career hits those notes without much clumsiness or guile, is a testament to the technology and storytelling as well as the sophistication of the actors, none of whom talk about it on the phone. Biles also applauds the cast’s dynamic: “They have chemistry. ,” he says. “It’s palpable.”
Particularly impressive scenes in prison between Laura (Siobhan Williams) and Max (Skyler Gisondo), who are being held hostage by a dubious sheriff (Ted Raimi). The line between Williams and Gisondo flows naturally, even as their discussion shifts from college rejection letters to forest monsters. The digital makeover, so to speak, is not as distracting as one might expect; their performances are charismatic, tangible. At such points Career attracts the attention of both game lovers and movie lovers. The respective fates of these mediums often overlap, and they will no doubt continue to do so in an even more reliable manner. But CareerThe highest quality playback is a particularly nimble step forward and an incredible sign of things to come. Like Elise from Zabriska—with its artfully digitized thousand-yard view—the game itself imagines and predicts, all the while looking to the cutting edge of the future.
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